The Minister for Employment and Social welfare, Hon. E. T. Mensah has been firing on all cylinders, accusing The New Crusading Guide of unprofessionalism in its latest investigative expose headlined “Orphans Home of ‘Hell’ “carried in its Wednesday edition dated September 1, 2010.
The Minister, speaking on an Accra based private radio station (Joy fm), complained that the New Crusading Guide newspaper didn’t contact the Department of Social Welfare and the authorities of the orphanage before airing the story, suggesting the story had been exaggerated. Interestingly however, the people he mentioned and accused the reporter of not consulting were captured expressing their views in the documentary.
Mrs. Sharon Abbey, the Head of the Orphanage, was seen reacting to the various human rights abuse issues at the orphanage while Mr. Adonogo, the Director of Social Welfare was seen reacting to the issue on under staffing.
The Minster also accused the reporter of damaging the image of mother Ghana and the Home by airing the story, saying that people have began to question the reporter’s motives for exaggerating the story.
Below are the unedited portions of the minister’s interview on Joy FM:
JOY FM: what will this do to the orphanage in terms of people really looking to giving generously to the orphanage?
MINISTER: I think it has damaged the image of the home and the country as it were because when we talk about this…this is a global village, it’s on the net, it’s everywhere. People have been questioning the motive. Like my Director just said, if it was for a good purpose and then you went somewhere, and you found this happening, the first point of call is to the Directorate of Social Welfare, you move to the Director, if the Director doesn’t do anything about it then you come to the Ministry and report the conduct of the staff there.
JOY FM: this is to mean that you were not contacted about all this before the video went on air?
MINISTER: not at all, as I said, you know the allegation was against the staff there, and then we asked the woman whether she was contacted, she said NO, and then I asked my Director, he is right here with me. Yesterday, we asked him, he said nobody has told him anything about this. So the motive is one issue that should also be brought to the fore.
JOY FM: can you repair the damage?
MINISTER: well, what this had done, out of every crisis comes a lot of issues and ideas. As the Director said, it has put our social, our whole attitude as people over the years, it did not happen only yesterday. Throughout when you look at eh budget allocation that this Ministry has been getting, where the ministry is even located and all, this has really, really put the searchlight on us, as p people and not on any individual, because if we look at other jurisdictions, when you talk about social welfare, the budget …. Our mandate is the same as the mandate of all ministries of Labour and Social Welfare they call them elsewhere where you talk about issues, social responsibility, social protection, it affects everybody, you and I sitting here, everybody has one social need or the other and that is why if you look at the mandate of the Ministry, we are to do other things apart from those who are excluded, physically challenged and we’ll have to look at people like the homes and orphanages, it is the responsibility of this outfit, the outfit which has direct responsibility of this Ministry. It is so sad when you look at what they have, what they are given to do their work.
JOY FM: people will say that now you are in charge , so what will you do about it because if it is a wake-up-call, it means that looking at for instance the Osu Children’s Home, they are poorly paid, they are not well staffed, what will you do about it?
MINISTRY: yes, what I think has to be done is, some advocacy at all levels. I am saying that Joy fm for instance where you stand, you should not be too much into selling sensational news, and you should be developmental oriented. Like we look at this Ministry, you look at the mandate we are talking about, we have a beautiful mission statement.
The minister however, admits that government must do something about orphanages, citing a Research carried out by the Department of Social Welfare which pointed to the fact that, the larger chunk of children living in orphanages are more prone to being wayward.
Asked whether it was all about cash, the minister responded in the affirmative, adding that systems were also a factor, citing the concepts of caregivers as mooted by the Department.
He also talked about the foster parenting and child adoption, citing the stringent adoption laws coupled with societal stigmatization as factors that had led to the apprehension of the citizenry to adopt children in such homes.
He announced however the formations of a task force to look at best practices with respect to adoption and fostering elsewhere in the world as well as lobby the powers that be to take a second look at the current laws. He also expressed satisfaction at the fact that apart from the mentally challenged, the Osu orphanage had a 100% school enrollment.
Queried how investigation into the matter was going to be carried out, the Minister disclosed that there was going to be a Committee put in place come Monday to look into issues that till now remain allegations.
The Committee is to be headed by the Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, a representative from the Attorney-General’s Department, Department of Social Welfare as well as the Acting Chief Labour Officer.
Some chilling statistics that makes interesting reading in the light of the Minister’s position on this issue as revealed by himself are that; with 127 orphanages across the country, only 5 were under State supervision with the remaining 122 under private operation. The Minster continues that, 95 of these orphanages popped up in 2002 with a whopping 90% not properly registered.
Orphanages, according to him, were to be decentralized at a later date, a system that will lead to the zoning of orphanages nationwide into four groups.
Source: New weekend crusading guide